By Jenna “Eviana” Bradshaw, Staff Writer
Many people are in search of the holy grail of all quick-fix, weight loss programs, but in reality, it doesn’t exist. It takes a lot of hard work, dedication and patience for one to reach his or her health goals. Have no fear! There are a lot of people in the same position as you and a lot of people willing to help you. The great thing about living a healthy lifestyle is you never stop growing and learning. I thought that I would ask a few sisters from the DPhiLifters group on Facebook for insight on their experiences and what has worked for them!
Would you consider yourself a beginner or experienced weightlifter, health nut, etc.?
Christine Duong: I think the term “health nut” has a negative connotation that implies one is excessively obsessed, but I like to be aware of ways to maintain and improve my health. Instead of finding diet and exercise programs, I like to learn how different lifestyle changes affect my health so that I am able to afford some flexibility and maintain my sanity.
Jennifer Chow: Intermediate, but definitely not expert. I am health conscious about my diet, but not a health-nut. I used to be very strict on my diet, but it was very stressful and not something that was doable for me for the rest of my life. I eat healthy as much as possible, but if I want to indulge in unhealthy food, I do. I would classify myself as a fitness enthusiast if anything. I enjoy challenging myself and trying new things, not restricting myself to any one form of fitness.
Lien Dang: I would consider myself a beginner because it wasn’t until recently that I completed a 21-day Fix Challenge that I’ve really learned more about how to live a healthier and well-rounded lifestyle. I learned more about nutrition, weightlifting and all the other factors that affect your body. Before this challenge, I mainly focused on cardio, but I learned that being fit is much more than that. I definitely believe in breaking the stereotype that all Asian women are skinny or thin. I’d rather be a woman who has curves and muscles!
Was it hard getting into the swing of things: going to the gym regularly, eating healthy?
Christine: It really wasn’t hard with the proper motivation and support. Since I started out with a restrictive diet, working out just to be able to afford more calories was enough of a motivation. Then with my husband working out a lot, it just became a thing that we did together. Once I saw the positive transformation that weightlifting had on my body and confidence, it helped to push me further.
Jennifer: It was extremely hard for me at the beginning of my fitness journey. I had to go from a party animal to working out regularly and eating healthy. I made a Tumblr account and followed a bunch of fitness blogs for inspiration and motivation. I also printed a lot of motivational quotations/pictures and posted them on my wall right in front of my bed so I can see it every day when I wake up to help me keep going. There’s been so many times I’ve wanted to give up but kept thinking about how much I wanted it and just forced myself to go to the gym.
Lien: It wasn’t hard to get myself to the gym. The hard part was eating healthy because I would always binge on the weekend and that forced me backwards in my effort to eat clean. Also, one of my excuses was that school kept me “too busy” to maintain a balanced diet and go to the gym regularly.
When did you start getting interested in fitness? Specifically lifting?
Christine: I got interested in fitness about three years ago. After dieting for six months, I honestly just wanted to exercise so that I’d have room to eat more food. Then about two years ago, my husband wanted to get back into weightlifting, so he bought a bench, olympic weight plates, and some dumbbells to start lifting in our garage. I got tired of just watching him and decided to join in.
Jennifer: I started getting into fitness in fall 2011 when I moved to Vegas from Atlanta. I used to party and drink a lot along with eating bad food. I was just living a very unhealthy lifestyle. I was unhappy with the way I looked and felt. I decided it was time to make a change. I started going to the gym three to five times a week and had a strict healthy diet. Not knowing many people in Vegas gave me an almost non-existent social life, so that helped me keep up with working out and eating clean. I was very ignorant about fitness and started doing mostly cardio and lifted very light weights if any. As I did more research on fitness, I learned to not to be afraid of weights and changed up my routine many times over the years. It wasn’t until 2012 that I was introduced into CrossFit that I started to lift more. By the end of 2012, I started to go to a strength and conditioning gym regularly, and I think that’s when I wanted to train more for performance than aesthetics.
What is your favorite exercise or lift?
Christine: I think it’s hard to pick one, but a few of my favorites are squats, push ups and pull ups because people are always impressed by how much I can do.
Jennifer: My favorite lifts are the back squat, clean-and-jerk, and snatch. I like the back squat because I have strong legs and my squat is currently one of my strongest lifts. Both the clean-and-jerk and snatch are Olympic lifts and they’re very technical. I’m honestly not that good or strong at those lifts yet, but I like them because they’re challenging to me. It feels extremely good to be able to do something you didn’t think you could do a year ago.
Lien: Any exercise/lift that works my arms (barbell curls and tricep extensions).
Where would you have someone start and what is some advice for those looking to start getting into working out, lifting, living a healthier lifestyle?
Christine: Start small and make simple, easy changes to your lifestyle. As those changes start to feel natural, throw in a new change. Being healthy is a lifestyle, not just a short term thing. If you make a drastic change, it will be difficult to maintain your sanity and easier to want to just quit. Also, work toward intrinsic goals based around trying to lift more weight each week versus extrinsic goals like increasing or decreasing your body weight or body fat percentage, and the body re-composition will come naturally. By focusing on your performance, your motivation becomes about being the best self you can be versus looking like your best self. Women tend to shy away from heavier weights because they either think it’s dangerous or they don’t want to look bulky, but your body can handle more than you think without looking “manly.”
Jennifer: My advice to someone looking to live a healthier lifestyle is to do your research and find out what works for you. What someone else loves to do may not work for you. Don’t be afraid to ask questions and seek advice as well. Don’t believe everything you hear because there are a lot of myths and fictitious things about fitness floating around out there. Don’t buy into fad diets or workouts. Good, old-fashioned diet and exercise is the best way to get fit and to maintain it. Also, it will be extremely hard at the beginning. You’ll want to quit over and over again, but don’t give up. No one said it’ll be easy, but it’ll be worth it. You may not see results right away, but keep going. It won’t happen overnight! Keep at it, and it will become a habit. Then, it’ll be hard not go to go to gym. If you’re trying to lose weight, take the number on the scale with a grain of salt, and do not weigh yourself every day. Your weight can fluctuate more than five pounds throughout the day, and weighing yourself too often could be discouraging when you don’t see any change. A good way to measure progress is to take pictures. You’ll be surprised at the changes you’ll see in a month. Additionally, don’t be afraid to try things out of your comfort zone. If you don’t challenge yourself, you won’t change yourself.
Lien: Every professional was once an amateur. Taking the first steps to begin your fitness journey can be overwhelming. However, it’s the best decision you’ll ever make for yourself! Defining your goals is the most important. Having a specific goal in mind will help you find the necessary resources that work best for you. It is also important to commit to you goals. Find your balance and seek advice/help from others when you need guidance or support. Having a positive mind set will motivate you further in your fitness journey.
As you can see, not everyone’s fitness journey is going to be the same. Do what seems BEST for YOU! What might work for some, might not work for others. There are so many different outlets for you to learn more about getting healthy (Instagram, Facebook groups, YouTube and etc.). Whether you’re a beginner looking to get started or a seasoned pro looking for some new exercises, make sure to be safe and always be responsible when in the gym or wherever you’re doing your workout!
Christine “Ishiko” Duong (Zeta Chapter) has been lifting weights consistently for about two years and considers herself an intermediate weight lifter. She founded the Facebook group DPhiLifters to create a community for sisters interested in weightlifting.
“I don’t really train at a gym but rather workout mostly in the basement of my house,” Duong said. “I’m also competing in my first power-lifting competition on August 8.”
Duong finished the competition with a 226 lb. squat, 137.8 lb. bench press, and 259 lb. deadlift PR for a total of 622.8 pounds.
Here’s a video of her performance for Powerlifting for Pups at AK Crossfit in Atlanta, GA:
Jennifer “Lotus” Chow (Gamma Chapter) has participated in Spartan Races, nine in the last year, and is a Triple Trifecta Spartan. She has also participated in a few CrossFit throw downs (competitions).
Chow dedicates her time to practice her form for every lift. Here is a video of Chow’s clean-and-jerk:
“Sisters who have met me in person know that I used to be a little chubby,” Chow said. “I’ve struggled with my appearance since middle school and my weight has been a roller coaster ride. I’ve done almost every crazy fad out there. I was starting to think that I’ll always be overweight and should just accept it. I want sisters to know that if I can do it, they can do it. It comes down to hard work and dedication. I post about fitness on my Instagram (@jchow12) and have a few progress photos on there if sisters are curious about my journey. I believe life is about taking risks. You don’t want to grow old with regrets and dream of what could have been.”
Lien “Estella” Dang (Iota Chapter) is currently a BeachBody coach who is helping others on their fitness journey through the 21-Day Fix Challenge. After seeing great results after her first round, she found a passion to help others reach their goal.
Dang said being fit and weightlifting has become an important aspect in her life because her mission is to educate the Vietnamese community and help stray the community from the ideals and images of what a Vietnamese woman should be.
Join DPhiLifters on Facebook for more conversation about fitness, weightlifting and leading a healthy lifestyle.
Featured Image: Special to The Jade Times (photo by Joseph Ong)
Article Images and Videos: Special to The Jade Times